A Shining Comeback?

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

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Recently Sega issued a trademark listed as “Shining Ark” – which could either mean an HD remake of the Saturn title Shining the Holy Ark, or possibly a sequel. As a long term fan of Sega and its Shining series my first reaction is to squeal with glee… until reality sets in and I remember Sega’s history with this franchise.

rock monster battle

Shining the Holy Ark heroes vs. Rock monster

The Shining series was Sega’s response to the slew of AAA RPG’s that Nintendo was releasing for their various consoles, spanning 14 games across the Genesis (Mega drive outside of the U.S.), SegaCD, Game Gear, and Saturn – and those are only the U.S. releases. Many more games did not make it out of Japan due to the split of Sega and Camelot, as well as poor sales of the series compared to those during the partnership. Originally Camelot started out as an in house development team as Sega CD4 (Consumer Development Studio #4) but changed their name to Sonic! Software planning when they started work on the first title in the Shining series, Shining in the Darkness.

My first experience with the series was Shining Force 2, one of the more famous entries in the series, as it rates on dozens of Top RPG and Sega game lists. It is a top-down strategy RPG that Sega used to combat the likes of the Fire Emblem series, and it did a great job on the battle front as it made its U.S. Debut long before Fire Emblem. Shining Force 2 drew me in with a fantastic story, cinematic attacks, and a soundtrack that just seemed to worm its way into your brain. After that, I was hooked. I bought every Shining title I could on the Saturn, spending an entire summer playing Shining the Holy Ark and crawling through dungeons defeating epic bosses and trying to find every hidden treasure and fairy. While it was not a strategy RPG, it had the same unique feeling I felt when I first picked up Shining Force 2.

Original U.S. Shining force 2 advertisement

The last game that Sega and Camelot paired together on was Shining Force 3. It followed the “force” series tradition of being a Strategy RPG, but was a huge undertaking as the story spanned 3 games that all took place during the same time while played from three different heroes’ points of view. The reason this was the last game was Sega was shifting development toward the Dreamcast, which left Camelot in the lurch as to the fate of the series. Sega agreed to release the first of the three parts but with an edited ending to make it more of a stand alone title. At which point Camelot left and formed a partnership with Nintendo to make the Golden Sun series which borrows heavily from Holy Ark and Shining in the Darkness in style

Sega released several other Shining titles without Camelot – mostly hack and slash titles on the Gameboy Advance and PS2 – but the sales were lackluster at best as they did not retain the charm from the originals. Without Camelot’s talent, Sega abandoned the series in the U.S. There will not be another true Shining title unless Camelot and Sega can mend fences. The rift still seems too deep from Sega burning bridges with Shining Force 3 being abandoned early on. They would need to work together to bring gamers in the U.S. the series entries we are missing, or new titles like the rumor attached to the newest trademark for Holy Ark as a sequel.

It seems unlikely at this point, though. Fans like myself will feel bittersweet about upcoming Shining news, seeing as the odds of localization seem slim. If a title is localized, Camelot would most likely not be involved, meaning that some of the charm will already be missing. Most likely the titles will remain in Japan only, and there will always be a void in the hearts of existing Shining fans. Gamers who have not yet had the pleasure of playing the classics will never know the awesomeness they are missing from Camelot and Sega working together.

Manual cover art for Shining force 3


About Chris Stollings

Chris is a 28 year old gamer who joined Operation Rainfall in the fall of 2012. When he’s not writing articles or working on video content for Rainfall, he spends his time creating Let’s Plays for his personal Youtube channel, and filling in the last few missing titles of his vast (in his mind) game collection, prefering RPG’s but wont turn down a title of another genre if it looks interesting.

  • The Shinning series is the series that got me hooked on video games and RPGs in general. It will always have a special place in my heart along with my friends.

  • Ninty

    That blue thing in the first pic looks like that one water-type starter Pokemon’s final form from the new generation. I guess they’re both based off a mythical creature from long ago..?

  • Oscar Tong

    I was TOTALLY obsessed with “Shining Force II” when I was a kid! I’d imitate all the battle animations and wanted to buy as many related toy weapons, especially foam-bolt crossbows like Sniper Elric and Janet, as possible! Plus, the music was INCREDIBLE. I have tremendous amounts of respect for any composer and sound programmer who can eke out a pseudo-symphonic (I even dare say quasi-symphonic) sound from an FM synthesizer! I think “Shining Force II’s” composer, Motoaki Takenouchi (not to be confused with Motoi Sakuraba), doesn’t get enough credit.

    What was really neat about the Genesis and Game Gear “Shining” games was some of the soundtrack albums that came out for them. The ones for “Shining in the Darkness”, “Shining Force II”, and the first two “Shining Force Gaiden” games contained orchestral arrangements (or at least high-quality sample-synthesized orchestral arrangements—I’m not sure) of several tracks that, in my opinion, let the music truly SHINE (*snicker*) as they were meant to.

  • Preston Whitehall

    This is one of those series that it always makes me sad that Sega has essentially abandoned since Shining Force III.  Games like this, Phantasy Star, Panzer Dragoon, and Valkyria Chronicles.  All games they could do something with that they have largely abandoned.

    • Vampiric

      shining had 5+ entries this gen

      valkyria had 4

      abandoned what?

  • Vampiric

    real rpg fans import

    losers whine like bitches like this

    • MarauderEX

      You also realize how idiotic a statement like this is on a site that started as a means to get games localized without having to resort to importing. Right?

  • Vampiric

    “There will not be another true Shining title unless Camelot and Sega can mend fences.”

     shining hearts and shining blade  2 srpgs